LOS ANGELES — Accusations of campaign workers intimidating other voters in the 51st Assembly District campaign have surfaced in recent weeks as voters get ready to go to the polls Dec. 6 for a special election to replace Jimmy Gomez, who was elected to Congress earlier this year.
Supporters of Luis Lopez have accused workers paid by the Wendy Carrillo campaign of intimidating them while trying to collect vote-by-mail ballots.
Lopez warned voters in campaign handouts to document strange or bullying behavior, take pictures of the canvassers and report them to the LA County Registrar of Voters office.
“Remember, your vote is your voice in selecting our communities’ next Assembly member,” Lopez wrote, “Don’t let any wrongdoers out there win.”
According to data issued by the Secretary of State, the push to collect signed mail-in ballots from absentee voters with the intent to deposit them in the mail by Carrillo canvassers falls in place with amendments made to AB 1921 in September 2016.
The law removed restrictions that banned campaign workers from collecting signed absentee ballots from voters who agree to hand them to “paid or volunteer” individuals of a political or controlled committee conducting activities in favor of any candidate registered for any election.
AB 1921 permits any individual designated by registered voters to carry an election ballot inside of its signed envelope to hand it off at polling place within the jurisdiction, or to drop it at a post office.
The law prohibits paying bonuses for anyone engaged in collecting ballots and dropping them at a post office under the payroll of a running candidate, but some doubt the prohibition is faithfully followed.
Carrillo has kept quiet about the practice. She has amassed a sizable cash war chest from local organized labor and Sacramento affiliates that donated more than $314,000 to her campaign before the Oct. 3 primary election, thus allowing her to finance crews of canvassers carrying clipboards and memorabilia representing her.
This month, Carrillo reported additional contributions made by several union chapters for $163,056, resources that came from health care workers, janitors and school employees.
Carrillo previously pledged to use unions’ cash contributions to increase voting turnout, and said she was proud to become organized labor’s candidate of choice.
“It’s money from janitors, labor workers who decided to support me,” she said at a community forum.
On the other hand, Lopez, who like Carrillo is a registered Democrat, reported total campaign contributions in 2017 of $244,078.94, and indicated his election committee accounted for $89,939.94 in donations, from the period of Sept.17 to Oct. 21.
He filed a complaint with California’s Secretary of State for a $22,500 contribution financing digital ads received by Carrillo on Nov. 14 made by the committee named “Carrillo Assembly 2017 supported by healthcare workers, janitors, school employees, and labor organizations: working families for Wendy.”
The Secretary of State is the agency in charge to register and enlist candidates running for state offices, keeps a database on past election results and records financial contributions made to individuals during the course of the campaign.
At a debate attended by an audience composed of nearly 400 residents and students from the Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academics High School in Glassell Park, Lopez stressed health care as the most important issue facing district dwellers and reaffirmed his commitment to seek funding for a universal coverage program administered by the state.
“We have to make sure we protect what we have, and stabilize the market place,” Lopez said. “I will fight for a single payer system in California for all as we protect the [Affordable Care Act] and gains we’ve made in the state.”
Lopez lambasted ongoing attempts to weaken ACA’s by cutting funds for the individual insurance mandate in the tax cutting plan assembled by Republicans in Congress, and criticized President Trump for sabotaging the current law.
Carrillo said higher allocations for operating jails related to lower funding for students is the most important issue affecting residents in the 51st Assembly District, and pledged to change Proposition 13 to get more property tax resources and assign them for improvements in education.
Lopez said he will champion environmental improvements in the Los Angeles River and its recreational areas, would revitalize spots endangered by polluted runoffs and ensure running water is filtered to avoid disease outbreaks.
He also committed to shutting down the Scholl Canyon landfill located near the Glendale (134) freeway in Eagle Rock, and graded Glendale’s proposed expansion of it as “trash talk.”
Carrillo promised to remove concrete areas leading to the river’s foot access and indicated she wants to preserve residential properties near the area.
“I want to make sure communities who live along the river continue to live here,” she said.
Carrillo and Lopez were the leading vote-getters Oct. 3 in the primary election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The 51st District includes Boyle Heights, most of Northeast Los Angeles and parts of unincorporated East Los Angeles.